ANTHONY Foley's work in promoting rugby league among the younger generations has been recognised after he was crowned Lancashire's Coach of the Year.
Foley is the Youth Development Officer at Accrington RLFC and has worked hard at encouraging youngsters to give the sport a try in the area.
He was named as Hyndburn's Coach of the Year and then went to a glittering ceremony at Ewood Park where he was crowned the best in the county in front of 320 people. And now Anthony will go forward to contest the Sport England's National Coach of the Year Award.
"I couldn't believe it when they read my name out," said Anthony, nicknamed Axel, who beat off competition from 13 other coaches from places such as Blackpool, Preston, Burnley and the Ribble Valley. "It is nice for me but it is more special for the club."
He has been a member of the club for 10 years playing for the first team but took over a coaching role and has enjoyed taking the sport to the younger generation.
He has been going into schools to promote rugby and this year the club started an Under 16s side.
"They are just starting out," said Anthony. "They are doing well and are learning all the time.
"We have played four games. In our first game we lost 48-0 to Chorley Panthers and we played the same team again last weekend. This time the score was 32-6 to them.
"Their coach said all our team deserved to be men of the match as he said we had all improved so much.
"Many of our opponents have been playing since they were eight or nine years-old. Ours is a new team which is building up - but we are getting there. Around here it is all football so we are just trying to give them something different."
His current project is going into schools and teaching rugby to eight and nine years olds in preparations for the area's first ever Tri-Nations tournament which will be held later this month.
And the club is holding training sessions for boys and girls at Primetime from 7-8pm every Wednesday night as he looks to continue getting more youngsters to give rugby league a go.
And Anthony is enjoying success playing for the first team as they have won three of their first four matches in the North West Counties Division Six.
For any more information about rugby ring "Axel" on 07817 577090.
Anthony was the only county success but a good night was had by the other Hyndburn champions.
Accrington Girls and Ladies Football Club just missed out on being Lancashire's Community Club of the Year. They were formed just over two years ago, started by three volunteers, and now have a committee of 10. The club is constantly striving to help female footballers realise their potential and develop their skills.
Young Volunteer of the Year from Hyndburn was Stephen Sumner from Hyndburn AC. He is a dedicated athlete who also takes time out to help others and is taking several coaching qualifications.
And Leigh Lennon was Hyndburn's Rising Star. Another Hyndburn AC member, she is undefeated at school town team level at cross country and track. Her aim is to go to the Olympics in 2012.